simple measures

I came across this video from Zach Carstensen’s Seattle-based arts blog The Gathering Note, and I’m quite impressed by the production values and the message that this video puts across – namely that music belongs everywhere in our lives, and that it is a joyful and affirming activity for listener and player alike.

Also a surprise: that former OSO violist Mara Lise Gearman is featured in this video – it’s about 2’30” into the video, and features the trio playing the opening march from Dohnanyi’s great Serenade for string trio. It’s all put together by the group Simple Measures, founded by cellist Rajan Krishnaswami (who you see first in the video).

Before I let you get to the video itself, what I’m wondering is why such a group isn’t really operating here in Portland.  Top-notch musicians from the big arts organization in town, interesting locations (we’ve got a streetcar, too, for crying out loud – and we had it first!) and innovative programming.  We’ve got groups that have two out of three in every configuration, but not all three together.  Hmmm…

instrument petting zoo

As part of our partnership with different communities each year, our education department includes what is called the instrument petting zoo.  No, it’s not a bunch of instruments in a fenced in area, with children walking around them petting them with timid hands.  

What it is in actuality is a chance for kids to get their hands on an instrument and be taught or guided in how to make some sort of elementary sound on it.  The theory is, if they get a small taste of creating new sounds on an instrument they’ve never seen or heard, they’ll want more, and might even want to take up an instrument in school or at home.

Here’s a YouTube movie I found of a youngster named Soren getting his first taste of the violin, with OSO violist Stephen Price giving him a hand with fingering the notes:

Here’s another video of OSO music director Carlos Kalmar giving the Portland Metropolitan Youth Symphony a workout in Beethoven’s Egmont Overture.

carrie dennis plays paganini and schumann

Carrie Dennis, the phenomenal violist who has (by the anything but grizzled age of 30!) already been Assistant principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Principal violist of the Berlin Philharmonic, and was just named as Principal violist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic has a couple videos up on youtube. See and hear her for yourself – viola ain’t second fiddle no more! Continue reading “carrie dennis plays paganini and schumann”